During his lifetime, Wild Bill Hickok was a lawman on several occasions. In administering the law, he was a no-nonsense person who tended to “shoot first and ask questions later.”
There was at least one instance where his fast guns shortened his career as a lawman.
Wild Bill Hickok was tall and athletic. And his skill with his pistols was well known. As with Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill had the ability to intimidate a person just by giving him “that look.” According to one observer, “Hickok would stand with his back to the wall, looking at everything and everybody under his eyebrows just like a mad old bull.”
In 1869, the people of Hays City, located in Ellis County, Kansas were having problems with drunken buffalo hunters and soldiers who were taking over the town each evening. So, in the fall of that year they had a special vote and elected Wild Bill as interim county sheriff.
Just a few days after becoming sheriff, Wild Bill had a confrontation with a drunken soldier and ended up shooting and killing him. It raised a few local citizens’ eyebrows. But, after all they hired him to keep the law, and that was what he was doing.
Then, just after midnight on September 27, Wild Bill and a deputy were called to handle a disturbance created by Samuel Strawhum and some of his friends. When Hickok arrived, and ordered the men to disburse, Strawhum came at Wild Bill. Wild Bill pulled his gun and shot Strawhum in the head, killing him instantly.
In a little over a month after becoming sheriff, the locals were beginning to wonder if they had made a mistake in electing Wild Bill.
As a result, when it came time for the regular elections three months later, the locals kicked him out by a vote of 144 to 89.